Dichotomising dementia: Is there another way?
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McParland, P., Kelly, F. & Innes, A. (2017) Dichotomising dementia: Is there another way? In: Higgs, P. & Gilleard, C. (eds.) Ageing, Dementia and the Social Mind. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, pp. 83-94.
This article discusses the reduction of the complex experience of dementia to a dichotomised ‘tragedy’ or ‘living well’ discourse in contemporary Western society. We explore both discourses, placing them in the context of a successful ageing paradigm, highlighting the complex nature of dementia and the risks associated with the emergence of these arguably competing discourses. Specifically, we explore this dichotomy in the context of societal understandings and responses to dementia. We argue for an acceptance of the fluid nature of the dementia experience, and the importance of an understanding that recognises the multiple realities of dementia necessary for social inclusion to occur. Such an acceptance requires that, rather than defend one position over another, the current discourse on dementia is challenged and problematised so that a more nuanced understanding of dementia may emerge; one that fully accepts the paradoxical nature of this complex condition.